Position, title and authority are often confused with leadership. The best leaders don’t lead from position or authority. Leadership is not an actual position or title. Whether you’re the president of a county, a chief executive office or a manager, your title will not make you a leader. Whilst position, title and authority provide you with the potential to lead, they do not make you a leader. To many of us incorrectly talk about the leadership referring to the senior executives in an organisation. Leadership does not just automatically happen when you reach a specific position, pay grade or level of seniority.

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” - Donald McGannon

“All the effective leaders I have encountered – both those I worked with and those I merely watched – knew four simple things: a leader is someone who has followers; popularity is not leadership, results are; leaders are highly visible, they set examples; leadership is not rank, privilege, titles or money, it is responsibility.” – Peter Drucker

Using title, authority and position is a poor way to influence others. It encourages people to rely on command and control as a means of getting things done. Leading from position has the following negative outcomes:

  • Leading from position undermines the development of relationships.
  • Leading from position encourages negative political behaviours.
  • Leading from position crushes the human spirit.
  • Leading from position results in compliance.
  • Leading from position frustrates creativity and innovation.
  • Leading from position erodes trust.
  • Leading from position produces mediocre results.

Leading from position and leveraging command and control results in lazy “leadership”. Those who lead from position don’t invest the time and energy required to establish a shared vision, to facilitate buy-in, to motivate and inspire others. Those who lead from position tend to hide behind company process and procedures, explaining why this or that can’t be done.

Leadership is a Choice

When we view leadership as position and authority, we mistake leadership as being about control. The reality is that leadership is about freedom. Leadership is our response to freedom, it’s the decision to accept personal responsibility to bring about positive change. It’s a choice that we all need to make.

It’s more important to ask “am I practicing leadership?” than “am I the leader?”

You don’t need a title or position to lead. Leadership can be enacted by anyone, it’s not dependant on position, title or authority, it’s dependent on the exercise of free will. Leadership is a choice, it’s more important to ask ourselves “am I practicing leadership?” than “am I the leader?”. Thus, leaders are those individuals who choose to engage in the process of leadership. The extent to which we choose to engage in the process of leadership, you are practicing leadership no matter your title or position.

“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” – Kenneth Blanchard

Leaders don’t exploit their position, instead they inspire and motivate others to act in ways that achieve a shared vision.

Have you made the choice to lead?